Jeremy Lin Is Key Facilitator for Rockets' Ride to Postseason

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent IFebruary 13, 2013

Jeremy Lin has Houston fighting for a playoff appearance.
Jeremy Lin has Houston fighting for a playoff appearance.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are vying for their first postseason berth since the 2008-09 campaign...because of Jeremy Lin.

Currently sitting in the No. 8 spot of the Western Conference and three games ahead of the Portland Trailblazers entering Wednesday evening, Lin cannot afford to slow down.

After taking over the spotlight in New York City last season, Lin has continued his impressive impact throughout the 2012-13 season. Averaging 12.6 points, 1.9 steals and 6.1 assists per game, Houston ranks No. 1 in scoring and No. 6 in assists.

Adi Joseph of USA Today also puts Lin's impact for the Rockets into perspective:

Lin's new role is simple: He provides the Rockets with a steady hand and a streaky second option next to Harden. Houston coach Kevin McHale has avoided putting pressure on Lin while also keeping him in the starting lineup and playing a lot, which has helped him adapt.

Lin's role for Houston was epitomized on the road against the Golden State Warriors  .

There, he was perfect from the line (8-of-8) and dished out 10 assists with 14 points. Not to mention the Warriors play extensively better at home compared to the Rockets on the road, and are well-versed at crashing the boards.

In short, that was a key performance from Lin, especially after Houston dropped to the Sacramento Kings just days before.

The addition of James Harden has certainly paid extreme dividends on the offensive side as well. But consider Lin better than a game-managing point guard.

He can score, spread a defense, drive, pull up and generate turnovers.

With some solid talent around him to make the flashier highlights and quicken the pace, Lin need not take a lead-scoring role. However, he is the conductor of Houston's offensive orchestra that understands and dictates the overall tempo.

Unsurprisingly, this led to Lin getting selected for the NBA skills challenge during All-Star weekend, per the NBA on ESPN's Twitter feed:

Although Lin is just 24 years old, he's gradually developed into the beginning stages of veteran leadership this season.

Turnovers were certainly an issue early on. Fortunately, he has adjusted and the Rockets are 8-4 over the past 12 contests.

Now there are tough challenges coming with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Brooklyn Nets after the All-Star break. Playing well in those games will greatly impact March, because each are playoff contenders and possess the talent for a deep postseason run.

And Lin facilitating the Rockets to victories there will significantly enhance their confidence down the stretch.